Apple’s iPhone 6s is the most powerful smartphone in the world. Its camera is among the best in the world. It ushers in exciting new features and improves old features. As we said in our iPhone 6s review, it’s the biggest iPhone upgrade ever. But one of the best things about the iPhone 6s isn’t anything shiny or new. It doesn’t relate to speed or power, and it’s not something you can touch or feel. It’s something smart and revolutionary that Apple pulled off years ago, and it’s just as important today as it was back then.
Apple updated its App Store support page on Thursday morning, revealing a staggering statistic in the process: iOS 9+ is now installed on 61% of active iOS devices. There are hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads and iPod touch handhelds out there, and 61% of the ones that actively use the App Store are running iOS 9.
Apple has created a process where it owns software updates from start to finish. Yes, of course Apple’s wireless carrier partners test iPhones, but Apple manages the software on those devices, not the carriers. This means that when Apple releases a new update, everyone with an iPhone has access to it on day one.
Let’s look at Android, which has a software update process managed by phone vendors and wireless carriers instead of Google.
As of October 5th, 23.5% of Android phones that actively access the Google Play store were running Android 5.0 or 5.1 Lollipop, which was first released in November 2014, almost a year ago. And Lollipop isn’t even the most recent version of Google’s mobile operating system — Android 6.0 Marshmallow was just pushed out, but just about no one has it yet.
Android 4.4 KitKat is the most popular version of Android right now with 38.9%, and it was released in October 2013. Seriously.
Why are software updates so important? First, the user experience. When Apple releases a new version of iOS, every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch user in the world has access to all of the great new features in that software, as long as they’re compatible with their device. This happens on day one. They don’t have to wait for a vendor to test it and they don’t have to wait for a carrier to test it. They can just download it.
Also important is the fact that new software releases contain bug fixes and security patches. There are millions upon millions of Android users out there with phones running software that was released in 2013 and last updated in early 2014. A whole lot has happened since then.
The conversation surrounding software updates is ongoing, but this new stat Apple just released serves as an important reminder. Apple has created a system that provides users the best possible mobile experience the moment it becomes available. It was no easy feat, but it was well worth the time and effort it took to create.